Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. MERS is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). MERS-CoV infection often develops into severe acute respiratory illness. Most people identified with MERS to date have developed fever, cough, and shortness of breath within 2-14 days of exposure. More than 30% of confirmed cases have died. So far, most human cases have occurred in persons residing in, or travelling to the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries. Other cases have occurred outside this area, but involve persons with close contact to ill travelers from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries.
There is no evidence of sustained spreading in community settings although MERS-CoV has been shown to spread among family members and care takers in hospital settings where there has been close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. There is no specific treatment for the virus. Vaccine is in development but is not available at this time.
On May 12th, 2014, the Florida Department of Health confirmed the first Florida case of MERS in a patient at an Orlando area hospital. The Department is working in close cooperation with hospital officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the health and safety of all Floridians. To date, no other cases of MERS have been identified in Florida. This first Florida case of MERS represents a very low risk to the public. There is no evidence that the Florida case is linked to the case identified in Indiana confirmed on May 2, 2014.
Resources for Health Care Workers:
- CDC HAN Information and Guidelines for Patient Evaluation
- MERS Key Points for Healthcare Workers 5/23/14
- MERS Clinician Screening Tool
Florida Health MERS Press Releases:
- MERS-CoV Press Release- 5/19/14
- MERS-CoV Press Release- 5/15/14
- MERS-CoV Press Release- 5/14/14
- MERS-CoV Press Release- 5/12/14
- Online Newsroom
Resources for County Health Departments: